When it comes to personal health, I look for ways to get and stay engaged for a healthy lifestyle. This summer I tried something a little different and boy did it pay off.  Not only did I benefit, but my friends, family, and staff did too, getting and staying active helped to relieve stress and improve my mood.  As our Step It Up Challenge winner Patrick King put it “I had a great “support group” of employees with me every step of the way.  They helped motivate me to keep moving even when I was ready to stop. This challenge has changed the way I think about health from diet to exercise. “

Summer can be a busy time of year. Between vacations, cookouts, and holidays it easy to overlook your daily workout. To keep myself on track I challenged 20 leaders from across Northern Virginia to participate in the first ever Step It Up Challenge.  I wanted to reinforce the importance of workplace health by setting an example for the community and I rallied other leaders to do the same just by joining me.

Staying active doesn’t have to mean another routine trip to the gym or a time consuming work out – it can be fun, competitive and something to look forward to and if you’re already in shape, this kind of challenge gives your workouts an exclamation point. After all, everyone wants to see their name at the top of the leaderboard.  To keep everyone extra motivated, Innovation Health offered a $3,000 check for a charity of the winner’s choice.

While the contest has wrapped and the winner has been crowned the other participants and I are still seeing the benefits of jumpstarting a daily workout routine.

Creating your own step challenge this summer

Regular physical activity like walking helps combat obesity and prevents chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and strokes. It also promotes strong bone, muscle, and joint development; and it has been proven to improve sleep and relieve stress while also increasing energy and self-esteem.

According to the CDC, over the last 20 years there’s been a significant increase in obesity in the United States. About one-third of U.S. adults and approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Fun and engaging ways to get active, like a step challenge, can create a foundation for making exercise a part of your daily routine.

Get creative with your coworkers, friends, husband, wife or kids to start a new healthy habit this summer. Create a leaderboard, electronic or good old marker and paper will do.

Building positive health habits is the right move no matter the season. Set yourself up for a healthy, happy summer by getting your staff, your family, or a group of friends moving!

About Innovation Health

Innovation Health provides health benefit plans to more than 200,000 members. The product of a unique Aetna and Inova Health System  partnership, Innovation Health began offering health benefit plans in October of 2013 as a new way to deliver and finance more affordable, quality health care for employers and individuals in Northern Virginia. Through our integrated care model, Innovation Health combines a premier health plan, health system, and physicians for improved health outcomes and cost savings.

Innovation Health plans are available to individuals and businesses of all sizes in Arlington County, Clarke County, Fairfax County, Frederick County, Loudon County, Page County, Prince William County, Shenandoah County, Spotsylvania County and Stafford County. Individuals residing in these counties can purchase health plans directly from Innovation Health at innovation-health.com or through the Virginia Exchange website for the 2017 open enrollment. For more information on Innovation Health, our plans and how we can help you, visit our website.